Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cheese Classes Strike Again: Eat, Drink & Learn.

Cheese Classs

Cheese Class set-up from Southern Cheese & Spirits

Hello readers, it’s educational sipping and eating time again! I’m very happy to share some newly posted classes I’ll be teaching in San Francisco this summer (and, yes, September counts as summer in the bay area- it’s when the locals really get in thick of complaining about the 86-90 degree weather). All classes are open for registration.

Please join if you can! And keep posted. I’m very excited to share future classes like the beer-pairing one I’ll be teaching with Master Cicerone Nicole Erny once the dates are set (yup, consider me awed). Plus, I’m packing the classes and events in for my book’s release and will list them here. Full calendars, coming at ya.

A little warm-up:

Here’s an article about one of the co-owners of the Cheese School of San Francisco. Along with Kiri Fischer, Daphne Zepos organizes all classes at the school. Not to mention she also runs one of the top cheese importing companies in the country, she’s the best teacher I’ve ever been blessed with the opportunity to learn from and teach alongside, and she’s one of the most beautiful, lively, and inspirational people around. She does more in a week than most of us do in 3 years and has done more for the artisan cheese industry in the United States than butter has done for toast. In short, there’s no shortage of what we can learn from this woman, and I dream of being even half as awesome as her when I grow up. Read about her here.


California Cheese & Wine: Tuesday, July 31st (6:30-8:30pm), The Cheese School of San Francisco

The story of California as told through the microcosm of vine and dairy: It started as the anything-goes wild west, became the promised land, and still churns out hits. In this class you’ll taste the cheeses and wines that have trail-blazed their way onto the tables of food-lovers across the country and discover why they have inspired incredible growth, excellence, and influenced the very identity of West Coast cuisine. Your host and historian is the ‘It’s Not You, It’s Brie,’ blogger and oenophile Kirstin Jackson; and your class companion will be a full tasting of California’s most delicious cheeses and wines.

Pink & Beyond: Tuesday, September 18th (6:30-8:30pm), The Cheese School of San Francisco

Not to be confused with the jug wines of yesteryear, the beauty and delightful flavor of pink wines can be enchanting. Instructor and wine maven Kirstin Jackson will explore how Rosé is made and discover the flavors of strawberries, minerals, rose petals and cocoa powder that characterize the very best of this style. Pair the pinks with carefully selected cheeses and you have the perfect formula for outdoor summer entertaining.

Some other knock-out cheese & wine/beer/spirits classes in the area that I’m eyeing:

Curds & Suds: Best of the Left Coast
Instructor: Janet Fletcher | Monday, July 23rd (6:30-8:30pm) | $69
Instructor: Janet Fletcher | Monday, July 23rd (6:30-8:30pm) The Cheese School of San Francisco
Lead Instructor: Juliana Uruburu | Sunday-Tuesday, September 9-11th (8:30-5:30pm)
The Cheese School of San Francisco
Sundays, July 29 + August 26, Monday October 1
Instructor: Louella Hill, 18 Reasons

Brazos Valley Eden Cheese: Fig Leaf Temptation

Brazos Valley Eden

Brazos Valley Eden

Although Brazos Valley Cheese has been winning awards and doing their thing for about seven years now, it’s only recently that I’ve had a chance to cut into one of their delicious creations- in this case, the oozing, creamy wheel of love called Eden. It’s its own little garden of unassuming bliss- fig leaf included.

First place winner of the 2011 ACS brie-style category, Eden is a raw cow’s milk cheese that comes from Waco, Texas. Marc Kuehl and Rebeccah Durkin make this gem in the Brazos de Dios Community, a 1,000-person community devoted to traditional agricultural and crafts along the Brazos River (I’ve got much to learn about this place and love to learn more if anyone would like to share). They’ve got seven cheeses to their name, and all I’ve tried have been amazing.

Eden is a raw cow’s milk cheese (all Brazos are raw) made in a brie style. Wrapped in a fig leaf, Eden is soft-ripening, has a bloomy rind, and as it ages, it turns into a delectable pool of creaminess. See that bit off darkness amidst the creaminess above? That’s an ash vein. When making Eden, the chesemakers layer the curds with a thin layer of ash. Why they choose ash for this one I’m not sure, but ash has been traditionally used in cheeses like Morbier to separate the night and morning curds, and in cheeses like Goat’s Leap Eclipse to alter acidity and help a wheel ripen. Not to mention it just looks smashing in a photo.

The flavor?

Just salty enough. Buttery like fresh spring butter. A light beefy savoriness that melds with the sweetness of Eden’s high-qaulity milk. Rich as Scrooge McDuck. Fig leaf adds a bit of green flavor to the mix, and yes, eat the rind (rind = more Eden to enjoy). Pairs well with Sauvignon Blancs, lightly oaked Chardonnay, and swimmingly with Champagne.

I’ve seen it around the Bay Area and have spotted it in Texas at Scardello Cheese and Houston Dairy Maids.

Have you had a chance to enjoy this or other Brazos beauty? What are your favorite leaf-wrapped cheeses?

Lastly – My book has a Facebook page! And the profile photo? A shot of my book cover! Publishes November 6th, but you can like my little ol page whenever you want!

Buckwheat Almond Morning Bread: Because your breakfast cheese deserves it.

Buckwheat almond bread

Buckwheat almond bread

A constant desire to incorporate cheese into at least every other meal of my life inspired me to create this (gluten-free) buckwheat almond morning bread. I knew that if I missed slipping cheese into dinner because of some unexplained act of God, I would need a something that fared well with cheese in the AM. Better yet- something that froze well so I could have reserves.

Now, I wouldn’t say no to a beautiful pecorino or bandage-wrapped cheddar in the morning, but I generally crave milder cheeses while I’m waiting for the caffeine to kick in. My intention with this recipe was also to make something that would fuel me for the rest of the day. So my two goals- create something that tasted good with a light morning cheese- chevre, fromage blanc, ricottas, lightly aged cheeses – and to have something with a little bit of power that would tide me over until second breakfast.

Marcelli Family chestnut honey

Marcelli Family chestnut honey

The result of my morning cheese friend need was this buckwheat-almond flour-oat-fig bread. The nutrition force is with it for sure, but it’s still delicate enough that it highlights rather than competes with whichever cheese it’s pairing. I’ve had it with local chevres, Nicasio’s Foggy Morning, and Bellwether’s Ricottas. The buckwheat and oats offer a hefty, earthy base for cheese, and the almonds, molasses and fig provide just enough sweetness. It’s also gluten-free. It freezes well if you pop it in a toaster oven once defrosted, and carries over well into dessert with a blue or washed-rind cheese paired to honey and preserves.

Buckwheat Almond Morning Bread (for your cheese!)

1/2 cup room temperature salted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/3 cup packed almond flour

2/3 cup rolled oats (not instant)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

10 dried figs, chopped

extra flour and butter for dusting pan


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter and lightly (buckwheat) flour a loaf pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses, cream again, then add the egg, then vanilla.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, oats, and  cinnamon. Gently fold this into the wet ingredients until well combined. Add the chopped figs. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

Serve at room temperature with cheese, and delicious honeys or preserves.